Here’s hoping the doom-and-gloom merchants have got it wrong again

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December 1

Predicted overnight temperatures of minus five degrees are a big concern, but the weathermen can be as erratic with their forecasts as us racing tipsters, so Alan has fingers and toes firmly crossed that Newbury’s biggest day’s jumping of the year will survive tomorrow.

Alan is looking forward to both our runners at our local course, Masaccio in the novice hurdle and North Lodge the two and a half mile handicap hurdle.

Assessing their chances, Alan said:”Masaccio was a good bumper horse, and I was delighted the way in which he fought back after the last to win on his hurdling debut at Chepstow. The form got a boost when runner-up, Beat The Bat, won at Ascot next time, so, despite his penalty, we are hoping that he can follow up.”

North Lodge makes his eagerly-awaited reappearance after an absence of almost 20 months, and he is a horse who Alan has always rated highly.

He added:”North Lodge is an exciting prospect, but he missed all of last season, having finished third in a Grade 1 on only his fourth race over hurdles at Aintree’s 2022 Grand National meeting. He had previously won a Grade 2 at Cheltenham’s Trials fixture, and he has done plenty of strong work in preparation for this, so we are looking forward to getting him going again.”

Alan was delighted with Paradias‘s winning debut at Lingfield yesterday, and he will be hoping for similar celebrations with Insanity this week-end, though whether it is Newcastle tomorrow or Leicester on Sunday is very much in the hands of the weather.

Insanity has been confirmed for the introductory hurdle at Gosforth Park with Nico de Boinville booked, but Newcastle have had snow on the course, so Alan is awaiting news on an early course inspection this afternoon.

Alan said:”Insanity was a good three-year-old on the Flat, and we have always thought an awful lot of him. He has been schooling well, and we have always got Leicester as an alternative 24 hours later.”

We have four confirmed for Doncaster tomorrow, but Town Moor were forced to cancel their meeting today, so again it will be a case of watching and waiting for overnight news.

Of the quartet, Spartan Army is a horse who takes plenty of racing to get fit, so he might well improve on his recent third at Plumpton. He is an exceptional worker in the mornings, and, though he has yet to show the same sparkle on the track, he is a fine, big individual who could blossom as he fills his frame. He is entered in the handicap hurdle.

Betterforeveryone would wear cheekpieces for the first time in the handicap chase. He was third on his first run over fences at Warwick and ought to improve for the experience.

Technology, who also has an entry at Leicester on Sunday, is ready to switch to fences. He has been schooling well at Marcus Foley’s and Alan is also pleased how well he has done physically since last season.

Finally, we have Rockola in the junior bumper. She was a promising third in a fillies bumper at Stratford but now takes on the boys as there isn’t a suitable alternative coming up against her own sex. Alan thinks Rockola will have learned mplenty from Stratford and she is another youngster whom he likes.